Meet Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua, dubbed “the water man,” who provides water to wild animals in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park‘s dry lands.
After witnessing the devastating consequences of global warming on Kenya’s soil, the generous man, who is a pea farmer in his village, came up with the concept. “We aren’t getting as much rain as we used to,” he adds. “So I started feeding animals water because I was afraid they would die if I didn’t.”
Every day, Mwalua drives a few hours to replenish the dry watering holes with life-saving water. Elephants, buffalo, antelope, and zebras all flock to welcome him whenever he arrives with a truck loaded with 3,000 gallons of fresh water. “There is no water at all, so the animals are entirely reliant on humans,” Mwalua explains to The Dodo. “They will perish if we do not assist them.”
Mwalua replenishes the region’s bone-dry watering holes, travelling for hours every day to get water to those who need it most.
The concrete-lined trenches themselves require frequent cleaning – Mwalua blames buffalo droppings – and on occasion, he would just spray out a patch of broken ground for the grateful creatures.
“The buffalo wallow about in the mud, suffocating the fleas and ticks,” he explains.
Many animals don’t even wait that long, swarming the truck with abandon as Mwalua turns on the tap.
“I discovered 500 buffalo waiting at the water hole last night,” he adds. “They could smell the water as I arrived.” The buffalo were quite interested in us and came very near to us.
“While I was standing there, they began to sip water.” They’re ecstatic.”
Mwalua leads Tsavo Volunteers, a conservation effort, in between road trips. The 41-year-old also makes visits at local schools to speak with students about the wildlife that is a part of their heritage.
He explains, “I was born near here and grew up with animals, so I have a lot of enthusiasm for wildlife.” “I choose to raise awareness about this so that as kids grow up, they would be able to preserve their animals.”
Mwalua began hiring a truck and transporting water to several places in Tsavo West last year. His mission would entail several trucks, and he would be on the road for hours every day, driving dozens of miles between stops.
“It’s a big vehicle that doesn’t move very quickly,” he explains. “We’ll have to be patient and go provide water”.
But his lifeline has reached all the way to the United States, where three ladies he has never met assist him to keep the taps open.
“I visited Kenya in December of 2015, but I didn’t know Patrick or meet him at the time,” Connecticut resident Angie Brown tells The Dodo. However, she was plagued by the nation, particularly the condition of its animals.
Brown reached out to Cher Callaway and Tami Calliope on Facebook when she learned about the current drought. Callaway, who resides in Utah, and Calliope, who lives in Vermont, agreed to assist.
Kenya’s water delivery guy is keeping animals alive during the drought, according to Callaway, who has worked with Mwalua on a number of projects, including beehive fundraisers and night patrols to gently scare elephants away from communities.
She tells The Dodo, “His dedication to the wildlife and his heritage is unmeasurable.” “Even risking his life to bring water to a dry water hole in the middle of the night.”
Callaway started a GoFundMe page, which has raised almost $451,463 from individuals all across the world, all of which will go toward Mwalua’s water delivery service.
“We’ve all put forth a lot of effort to raise awareness about the animals Patrick is assisting, and the GoFundMe campaign has been a huge success,” Brown adds. “However, he’ll require a lot more money.”
Mwalua, on the other hand, will continue to rumble down those sandy roads. There are still many miles to go. And there are a lot more thirsty mouths.
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